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Seldom will you come across a bottling of Balmenach. Licensed in 1824, this Speyside distillery was sold to DCL 100 years later, remaining in constant production until 1993. A 12-year-old became part of the Flora & Fauna range, but to my knowledge that is the only known distillery bottling. In 1997 it was sold to Inver House, who remain the present owners.
Surprisingly, the SMWS website has no listing of this one, and because the starter kit samples have little information on the label, all I know about it is that it is 11 years old (though I presume it comes from a bourbon cask of some kind).
The colour is a yellow gold. Very fruity on the nose with peaches, apricots and green apple skins. Freshly squeezed orange juice. Heather honey. Hint of peat. Lime pith. Dill. Grassy. I can't tell if the minerality I'm getting is real or if I'm influenced by the name of the whisky (this is the difficulty with these bottlings - the name is their primary tasting note). Classic Speyside. Some lavender with water. Very pleasant and enjoyable.
On the palate the fruit moves aside a bit to make way for a more medicinal profile: bandages, copper and mouthwash. Lemon pith, grape skins and under-ripe pear. Fennel. Cloves and black pepper. Spicier - and even less fruity - with water. Tasty in its own way, but different from the nose.
The finish is mango, ginger and more of that chalky minerality that provides its name. This is so strangely imbalanced between the fruity nose and the medicinal palate that I can't say it's entirely successful, but there is something enjoyable about it. Like two party guests who can't stop fighting (and whose company you still enjoy), at least it's never boring.